Michael J. Zacchea, a decorated army hero and the founder and director of UConn’s remarkably successful Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV), has died at 53.
His unforeseen death late final 7 days still left his UConn colleagues, federal government officials, and his “military family’’ in stunned unhappiness.
Zacchea, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, was a veteran’s veteran. He focused his initially vocation to serving his place in Iraq, Somalia, and Haiti. He gained two Bronze Stars for Valor, a Purple Heart Medal, and was the initially American to get paid the Iraqi government’s greatest honor, the Purchase of the Lion of Babylon.
When his tours of responsibility were being more than, he continued his service in a civilian capacity by encouraging his fellow veterans kind their very own companies and efficiently changeover from armed forces to civilian lifetime.
“Mike is a 1-of-a-type hero who towers earlier mentioned us normal mortals,’’ claimed Professor Emeritus Tom O’Brien, the former head of the College of Business’ finance division and an enthusiastic supporter of the EBV.
The EBV application prepares disabled U.S. veterans with the entrepreneurship and modest-enterprise administration expertise they need to create their possess firms. Zacchea typically stated that veterans possessed the fortitude, resolve, and honor that manufactured them amazing small business leaders.
The 237 graduates of the program produced vastly distinct organizations, from security companies to tailor made-gift providers to drone-running instruction.
“The veterans adored and liked him, and observed him as their savior in a way,’’ explained O’Brien, who considered so strongly in Zacchea and his perform that he supplied a $100,000 matching present to aid the application. “It’s genuinely hard to convey how un-ordinary he was.’’
Lt. Gov. Susan Susan Bysiewicz understood Zacchea well as the previous Secretary of the State and now as Lieutenant Governor. She explained his reduction will be felt much and huge.
“Mike was a incredibly passionate advocate for veterans and veterans who had been starting up their possess enterprises,’’ she claimed. “Mike always went over and further than to help some others, and was an inspiration and mentor to these close to him.
“I’ve had the satisfaction of assembly some of the college students in his classes who have long gone on to get started quite profitable businesses in Connecticut and in other states. As a veteran, he was ready to link with current overcome veterans and have interaction with them, supplying them the equipment to turn out to be after once again engaged in civilian everyday living and employment,’’ she claimed.
Zacchea, who was lively in community companies in his hometown of Brookfield, was “the fantastic general public servant,’’ who served each his place and its people. “He will be skipped, and I prolong my deepest sympathies to his good friends, family, and previous students.”
Faculty of Company Dean John A. Elliott agreed.
“Mike Zacchea was an amazing U.S. Marine, entrepreneur, educator, and UConn Husky,’’ Elliott explained. “He was at the centre of the veteran local community at UConn, in Connecticut, and in the United States. For more than a 10 years he guided, befriended, and assisted hundreds of men and women while the EBV application. He will be sorely missed.’’
A Army Hero
Zacchea deployed as the first U.S. armed forces adviser through the war in Iraq. His mission was to create, teach, and guide in combat the very first Iraqi military battalion educated by the U.S. armed forces. The battalion participated in numerous battles, including Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah.
He shared his story in the “The Ragged Edge: A US Marine’s Account of Main the Iraqi Army Fifth Battalion,” published in 2017. The e-book highlights anything from system to the sophisticated endeavor of uniting troopers with distinctive spiritual affiliations, the lack of simple supplies, and the harrowing and bloody battles that ensued. He also explained the friendships he manufactured, which in the end saved his life from an assassination endeavor.
Just about 18 a long time back, Zacchea was injured by a rocket-propelled grenade that resulted in a traumatic mind harm that nearly finished his life, and compelled him to just take a medical retirement.
EBV Enormously Prosperous
Zacchea started the EBV application in 2009. The program’s graduates have released 187 corporations, developing a lot more than $150 million in gross revenues, and developing 430 jobs.
The software brings aspiring entrepreneurs to campus for 10 times of intense education by UConn professors and other experts in entrepreneurship. Following they graduate, they have a 12 months of comply with-up advising out there.
Administration professor David Souder explained he has taught in the program for virtually a 10 years and was amazed by Zacchea’s management.
“Mike always planned the EBV in-home 7 days to go over an sum of articles that would be typical for an full semester,’’ Souder said. “The contributors would be scrambling to hold up, but also inspired to do so by Mike and each other. He produced it get the job done by subsequent up with all the participants, aiding them decide on and decide on the most appropriate sections of the curriculum, and locating means to health supplement and boost what they figured out right after they ended up back again household.
“Although the in-home 7 days is the signature exercise of the EBV application, I was impressed with all the perform Mike did behind the scenes to make it all doable and hold in touch with all people who at any time went via the plan,’’ Souder explained.
Marine Corps veteran Tony Audette, proprietor of Audette Bikes in Canton, credits the EBV system for his enterprise information and steering him absent from several costly business enterprise problems. He said he admired Zacchea.
“Mike had the foresight and skill to create a long lasting community, 1 that altered not just the daily life of veterans in immediate get hold of with him, but also for the people and workers of individuals veterans, who opened their very own companies or grew to become much better intrapreneurs,’’ he reported, referencing a phrase utilized for people who market innovation with their organizations.
“His legacy of compassion and management will be carried on by each of us who have had the satisfaction to be a aspect of his method,’’ Audette claimed.
The Plan Will Keep on
The EBV method will keep on as planned and as Zacchea would have wished, explained Jennifer Mathieu, director of the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at UConn. The Faculty of Company will lean on the alumni and veteran communities, which have been responsive in the previous, and go on preparing for the next veteran course in August.
“I discovered so a lot from Mike about the veteran neighborhood and the approaches we can ideal deliver guidance as they are beginning businesses,’’ she reported. “I will hardly ever fail to remember just one of our quite final conversations we had about the qualities of veterans and what we believe would make them successful business people.
“It was obvious how passionate Mike was about every little thing he did,’’ she claimed. “It is tough to set into terms the long lasting impression that Mike has made on the veteran neighborhood and within our entrepreneurial ecosystem. He will truly be missed.’’
Mehgan Williams, a college professional who labored for Zacchea, reported his compassion was outstanding.
“Michael Zacchea dedicated his lifestyle to veterans, and I was lucky enough to have a entrance-row seat for seven many years,’’ she claimed. “What I most admired was his perseverance. He would chat to veterans who were having difficulties, occasionally for 12 several hours, to make certain they were being Alright. He would converse by means of the evening if he experienced to. And that did not transpire just once or two times, it occurred several, several situations.’’
Zacchea, who earned an MBA at UConn in 2012, was generally tapped as an skilled in veterans’ difficulties, whether or not in Connecticut or for countrywide coverage.
He served on a cross-agency working team for the Connecticut Department of Veteran Affairs focusing on veteran reintegration, schooling, training, and more. He also established the Connecticut Veterans Chamber of Commerce in 2013, lobbying to move laws selling workforce reintegration and access to health care.
He was appointed to the Advisory Committee on Veterans Business Affairs for the Smaller Organization Administration in 2015, and three a long time afterwards turned the chairman, advising on procedures and troubles impacting much more than 2.5 million veteran-owned firms.
He was quoted often, which includes in countrywide media, and in 2016 he attended President Obama’s Condition of the Union deal with as a guest of U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal.
Options for funeral companies are incomplete at this time. Much more data will be forthcoming.